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  1. #1
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Number of spokes Vs. Strength

    I am considering buying a new set of road wheels. I haven't decided exactly what pair yet but am looking at everything from Rolf, to Spinergy, to Shimano, etc. I am hoping to get a set on sale for no more than $500 Cdn.

    What I have on my bike now are Sun Veuns rims, 32 rear, 28 front, Ultegra hubs that I have had for 3 summers and paid $300 Cdn and have yet needed to be trued. I have looked at a few that have 20 spokes front and 24 rear, still others have less than that (16 front, 20 rear). I have looked at some on Ebay that come with truing tools. This tells me that they will need constant truing. Is this correct? Will lesser spoke wheel sets require constant truing? I do not know how to true a wheel (want to learn, but not on my new wheels!!) I don't want to be constantly truing as our roads around here can be quite rough in places. Should I stick with a higher spoke count? My thoughts are to go no less than 20 front 24 rear. Any advice?

    Thanks!
    Digger

    P.s. If it matters I am 190 pounds , bike is about 23 pounds.
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Deanster04's Avatar
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    If your roads are really rough then a 36 hole Mavic Open Pro rim, DT 14/15 spokes in a 3X pattern would be the best combination. I am 225lbs (maybe 230 after the holidays) and usually ride the above in 32 hole conventional spoking, but I have a set of 36 hole wheels that I use when I ride the back dirt roads with severe washboard. Extremely rough riding but the wheels stay true. I have over 5Kmiles on these wheels. Excel Sports in Boulder, CO sells a conventional setup like I described for less than $400. The parts cost more. There are other online suppliers who sell the same wheel. Don't let anyone tell you that 36hole wheels are passe. If you want something that will last a long time then it is a good buy. 32 Hole might buy you the same...your decision.

  3. #3
    JRA...
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    it's very possible that the wheels you are looking at come with spoke wrenches because they are some proprietary nipple, and not necessarily because they will go out of true. a lot of people on the forum seem to be happy with low-spoke-count wheels, but i tend to be cautious, using no less than 28/32 front/rear. i'm not particularly heavy (~160 out of shape) but i like the idea of being able to limp home if i break a spoke or wreck the rim.

  4. #4
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Be aware also that some wheels have had recalls on them. I think some with American Classics hubs had issues (and Rolf wheels using those hubs was among them). FWIW wheel strength is not only related to spoke count. Hubs, rims and spokes all have to be considered. I am among the minority who has never had a spoke problem (and I've ridden over 125,000 miles). I've used lower count wheels (Velomax Ascent) and regular ol inexpensive Mavic rims with high spoke count. Right now I use wheels (Topolino) with kevlar/cabon fiber spokes. I also agree that the fact that a spoke wrench is included may have nothing to do with the liklihood of a particular wheel staying true. You might also want to go over to roadbikereview.com and see how other riders rate wheels that are in your price range.

  5. #5
    Taking "s" outta "Fast" AfterThisNap's Avatar
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    with a lower count, look for a deeper profiled rim for strength. As stated before, there is a lot to take into consideration.

    Also, just a personal suggestion, velomax wheels are mind-boggling when it comes to long term strength and durability. Mine stayed true for two years of regular riding without ever touching them, and I ride pretty rough roads too. It took a hit by a car in NYC to finally tweak the front wheel.

  6. #6
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Hmm, things to think about and all good advice.

    How about this then, I have narrowed my choices down to 3, what you y'all think of these:

    Shimano 500
    16 front radial
    20 rear cross 2 (I Think)

    Spinergy SR-3
    20 front radial
    28 rear cross 3

    FSA R-600 http://www.orangesportsupply.com/wheels/rd600.html
    18 front
    24 rear
    These look kinda weird though, see the link above.

    Thanks again!

    Digger
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  7. #7
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    How fat are you, Digger? The more you weigh, the more spokes you'll need for reliability. A 270# person CAN ride 24 spoke front / 27 spoke rear wheels - I've done it. Just expect to have a broken spoke every few hundred miles.

    If you're 160# or less, you can ride just about any wheels with reasonable reliability IMHO.

  8. #8
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    Why do you want new wheels? You have a great set-up and none of the wheelsets you're considering are better than what you now have. I recommend you simply service the hubs, install some new high quality tires/tubes, and go riding!

  9. #9
    Taking "s" outta "Fast" AfterThisNap's Avatar
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    both the FSAs and the Shimanos are bad for heavier riders, and thats based on mangled wheels coming into the shop.

    velomax velomax velomax.

    Hell, I don't even ride velomax wheels anymore (mavics now), but they are hands down the strongest and most durable wheelsets available.

  10. #10
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FarHorizon
    How fat are you, Digger? The more you weigh, the more spokes you'll need for reliability. A 270# person CAN ride 24 spoke front / 27 spoke rear wheels - I've done it. Just expect to have a broken spoke every few hundred miles.

    If you're 160# or less, you can ride just about any wheels with reasonable reliability IMHO.

    I'm 190 pounds at 6 feet and that's why I hesitate with a low spoke count.
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  11. #11
    Senior Member digger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gruppo
    Why do you want new wheels? You have a great set-up and none of the wheelsets you're considering are better than what you now have. I recommend you simply service the hubs, install some new high quality tires/tubes, and go riding!

    I was going to take the wheels from my road bike (Sun Venus rims Ultegra hubs) and transfer them to my touring/bad weather bike. Then use the new wheels on my road bike.

    The wheels on my touring bike are Matrix Aorura with some type of Shimano hub, 36 spoke front and rear. I don't see anything on the hub to give me an indication of the quality of the hub, so I am assuming it is lower quality Shimano.

    Admittedly, I am attracted to the flashy and sexy wheels to put on my road bike.
    Originally posted by Bones_McBones: Wow Digger, wow! You've earned my respect.... I know ashoposo got werked up. You are the gutter pig of Trollheim.

  12. #12
    Senior Member RockyMtnMerlin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AfterThisNap
    both the FSAs and the Shimanos are bad for heavier riders, and thats based on mangled wheels coming into the shop.

    velomax velomax velomax.

    Hell, I don't even ride velomax wheels anymore (mavics now), but they are hands down the strongest and most durable wheelsets available.
    Velomax wheels (or what ever they are called now) are very good wheels. I rode them for three years (maybe 11000 miles) never needed to be trued. When I got my new bike I decided to try Topolino's. While the appearance may not be to everyone's taste, they are a tad lighter than velomax and they offer a much better ride quality IMO. 13000 miles and never needed to be trued.

  13. #13
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    I'm 190 pounds at 6 feet and that's why I hesitate with a low spoke count.
    If you're riding strictly smooth roads, you could probably go as low as 27 spoke with good reliability. If you're riding rough roads or any off road at all, I'd stick with a minimum of 32 spokes if I were you. These recommendations are conservative. If you're willing to live with occasional broken spokes, reduce each number by between 4 and 7.

    Also, keep in mind that the advice I give you (and the advice of other posters here) is worth exactly what you're paying for it.

  14. #14
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    All things being equal, a 36 will be 12.5% stronger than a 32, a 48 33% stronger than a 36, etc.

  15. #15
    The Rabbi seely's Avatar
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    As far as certain wheels coming with truing tools, that is only because a of a proprietary design that does not allow the use of a standard spoke wrench. You see this with both Shimanos and Mavics, and a few others as well. Nothing to really worry about.

    I am a big advocate of standard spokes and standard spoke patterns and counts, especially for heavier riders, as you won't be waiting for Shimano/Mavic/Whoever to ship a spoke from Japan if you ever break one.
    commuter turned bike mechanic turned commuter (also a Velocity USA employee, but this is my personal account)

  16. #16
    ctp
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    oy vey...fewer and fewer spokes

    I weigh 240 and do fine on 32 spokes, but I break them if I go for fewer.

    I love 36 spoke wheels since I never ever break spokes

    My chopper has 72 spoke radial wheels on it...talk about never going out of true!!!

  17. #17
    dbg
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    With fewer spokes, a broken one means you're done for the day and may have a long walk. Some light touring trips I've been on have convinced me to stick with 32 or 36. One fellow broke a drive side spoke on a 36 spoke wheel. We wrapped it around its neighbor and he kept riding. We fixed it that evening. Next day a fellow broke a drive side spoke on a 24 spoke wheel (special aero spokes). We left him on the side of the road to wait for the sag vehicle. He couldn't find a replacement and I ended up loaning him another rear wheel for the rest of the trip.
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA (Trek 5900 Superlight), (Lemond BA), (Peugeot UO8 (SS)), (Dozen other muts)

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